ROVER'S CHALLENGE TO FORD

THE Rover Company, makers of fine cars at Solihull, has had a number of spasmodic but successful excursions into the realm of competition motoring, such as that single-seater Rover Special made by Peter Wilks and Spencer King, the turbine "Auntie" which took records, the rally 2000TCs, and the experimental Rover-BRMs which ran so convincingly at Le Mans. Now British Leyland have commissioned Bill Shaw to prepare a Rover for Group 2 saloon-car racing, to be driven by R. Pierpoint. It is a 3500 V8 with the light-alloy engine "stretched" to 4 1/2-litres and modified by Traco, using four carburetters, to give a claimed 345 b.h.p. It drives via a modified 4-speed 2000 gearbox and the standard suspension has been lowered and stiffened. The weight is down to approx. 20 cwt and 15-in. Dunlop racing tyres are fitted. After the advance publicity it was disappointing that at Mallory Park on April 19th the Rover lasted only five laps before the prefabricated front suspension broke up; it had already been trounced by an enlarged Ford Escort and a 3.8-litre Jaguar-powered Anglia.